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Back downtown for baseball? Dining options have changed

Back downtown for baseball? Dining options have changed

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The Cardinals will welcome a limited number of baseball fans back to Busch Stadium starting with the April 8 home opener. If you are one of those fans and a restaurant meal is part of your pre- or postgame ritual — especially if you haven’t been in or near downtown since before the pandemic — you should know that there have been some changes.

Here is an overview of the restaurants that have opened in the stadium area (somewhat broadly defined) since the end of the 2019 baseball season — and those that have said farewell either for good or, in one prominent case, to the city.

Openings

Sports & Social St. Louis has joined the Ballpark Village lineup with a hybrid restaurant, sports bar and “social gaming” model. (See, as other examples of this trend, Westport Social in Maryland Heights or the national chain Punchbowl Social.) The Tex-Mex-leaning menu features burgers, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and flatbreads.

Where Sports & Social, 651 Clark Avenue • More info 314-492-5064; stlballparkvillage.com/eat-and-drink/sports-and-social/

Clark & Bourbon is the restaurant at the Live! by Loews hotel, which opened just before the pandemic hit last year. Clark & Bourbon’s upscale menu features steaks and chops. Also on site at the hotel is the Whiskey Room, featuring an extensive whiskey selection, and the Bullock, an outdoor rooftop lounge that just opened for the season.

Where Clark & Bourbon, 799 Clark Avenue • More info 314-597-9700; clarkandbourbon.com

Though not yet ready for Opening Day, the acclaimed barbecue restaurant Salt + Smoke is slated to open in May in Ballpark Village’s One Cardinal Way residential tower. The restaurant will feature two levels, including an observation deck.

Where Salt + Smoke, 1 Cardinal Way • More info 314-727-0200; saltandsmokebbq.com

Elsewhere downtown, UKRAFT opened earlier this year by Citygarden, with a menu of sandwiches, wraps, smoothies and breakfast fare. This is the second brick-and-mortar location for UKRAFT, which was founded as a food truck; the first is in Clayton.

Where UKRAFT, 701 Market Street • More info 314-757-7075; ukrafteats.com

Reign opened last year in the sprawling former Copia space on Washington Avenue. The restaurant and bar often advertises its weekend brunch and Taco Tuesday promotion.

Where Reign, 1122 Washington Avenue • More info 314-403-0056; facebook.com/reignexperience

Wing Ding Dong is a ghost kitchen based in burger restaurant Baileys’ Range. You can order the dry-rubbed, smoked wings with dipping sauces for delivery or pickup at Baileys’ Range.

Where Wing Ding Dong (Baileys’ Range), 920 Olive Street • More info wingdingdong.com

A brief drive south of Busch Stadium will bring you to Jack Nolen’s in Soulard. The restaurant, which opened in late 2019, features burgers, fried chicken sandwiches and fries.

Where Jack Nolen’s, 2501 South Ninth Street • More info jacknolens.com

A short drive west of Busch leads to Beffa’s, which fourth-generation owner Paul Beffa reopened last year after a nine-year hiatus. The menu includes burgers and roast pork, roast beef and other sandwiches.

Where Beffa’s, 2700 Olive Street • More info 314-571-9367; beffas.com

Closures

Fine-dining institution Tony’s has left downtown for Clayton. The new Tony’s opened last week inside the new Centene Plaza tower at 105 Carondelet Plaza. The restaurant never reopened downtown after the initial pandemic shutdown last March.

Eat-Rite Diner, the tiny, iconic restaurant just south of Busch Stadium at 622 Chouteau Avenue, permanently closed in December. Owners Joel and Shawna Holtman had operated Eat-Rite since 2018; the former longtime owner L.B. Powers had closed the diner in October 2017.

(Late-breaking news, however: a new owner plans to reopen Eat-Rite in a slightly different format as Fleur STL at Eat-Rite.)

Also shuttering in December was Missouri Bar & Grille (701 North Tucker Boulevard). MoBar had been popular over the years with, among others, local and visiting sports writers.

The Peruvian restaurant Mango (1001 Washington Avenue) closed in December after 11 years downtown and a 16-year run dating back to its founding in Shrewsbury. Across the street, Caruso’s Deli (1000 Washington Avenue) closed in August.

Hamburger Mary’s (400 Washington Avenue) closed in September after 2½ years, and the Note Bar and its adjacent concept Vaya Con Dillas (200 North 13th Street) closed in May.

Note: Restaurant operations are subject to change during the pandemic. Please contact each establishment directly for its operating hours, COVID-19 protocols and other information.

James Bommarito gives a behind-the-scenes tour at his new restaurant, which moved from its longtime home downtown to Centene Plaza in Clayton. The new location opens March 22. (Bommarito removed his mask for this video.)

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